Bord Bia’s approach of allowing agri-food processors who break environmental rules into the Origin Green programme amounts to a kick in the teeth for farmers working to ensure they farm to the highest possible standards, according to Minister of State Pippa Hackett.
Some members of Origin Green are listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as among the worst environmental offenders in the State. Others have been prosecuted for breaches in the past or are the subject of live prosecutions.
These businesses can remain a member of Origin Green even after court proceedings brought against them for breaking environmental law, while farmer members of Bord Bia assurance schemes are only given a one month close-out period after audits to correct non-compliances before their assurance is revoked.
“I think it is unacceptable that processors are being granted Origin Green status when they are in fact not adhering to the environmental regulations,” Minister Hackett told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“I do think it is also a bit of a kick in the teeth to farmers who are also operating under quality assurance to feed into that Origin Green status.
“They are doing everything right, yet the processors are potentially letting them down.”
The minister urged Bord Bia to urgently address the granting of Origin Green membership to these processors to protect the green reputation on which Ireland sells its agri-food produce.
“The world is watching what Ireland is doing. We are leaders in food production and if we are not meeting environmental requirements, people will start asking questions.
“It is something Bord Bia needs to get on top of really quickly absolutely, now they should be dealing with this,” she said.